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Young Irish quarterbacks get a taste of game situations

Notre Dame fans may have needed to double-check their rosters during the rainy Blue-Gold scrimmage Saturday afternoon. Were Nos. 5 and 12 quarterbacks or running backs? Sophomore Andrew Hendrix and freshman Everett Golson relieved quarterbacks Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees early in the second quarter and spent the rest of the game seemingly playing two positions; both players out-rushed and
Posted on April 17, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 17, 2011 at 3:49 a.m.

NOTRE DAME -- Notre Dame fans may have needed to double-check their rosters during the rainy Blue-Gold scrimmage Saturday afternoon.

Were Nos. 5 and 12 quarterbacks or running backs?

Sophomore Andrew Hendrix and freshman Everett Golson relieved quarterbacks Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees early in the second quarter and spent the rest of the game seemingly playing two positions; both players out-rushed and out-threw the rest of the offense.

Golson showcased his athleticism, scrambling sideline to sideline away from pursuing linebackers before cutting upfield for a 23-yard gain on one instance.

"It felt like 70 (yards), seriously," Golson said after the game. "I was just trying to make something happen. Sometimes, that takes running all across the field."

Hendrix battled relentless pursuits by defensive end Aaron Lynch and showed flashes of promise, throwing 113 yards and running in the Gold team's two touchdowns in the 17-14 win.

That isn't to say there weren't mistakes.

Hendrix lined up at the wrong side of the huddle when he first took the field, and Golson got tangled with running back Patrick Coughlin during a handoff in the red zone.

"It's the first time out there for those guys so there were a lot of jitters," head coach Brian Kelly said of his two young quarterbacks. "I thought they really calmed down in the second half. Early on, everything was a 99 mph fast ball instead of feathering balls in here or there. I thought it was a great, great opportunity for them in a game-like atmosphere."

Hendrix, who rode the bench for the entire 2010 season, seemed to be itching to prove his potential.

"I haven't been in a live football situation since senior year," he said. "That's almost a year and a half ago. To get out there and move out there a little bit and get a little contact buzz in, it felt really good."

Despite accumulating 78 yards rushing and 91 yards passing -- including a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to receiver John Goodman -- Golson believes there is "a lot of room for improvement" in his game.

"Mechanics are probably one of my biggest weaknesses right now," he said. "I can sense myself falling back into my high school ways, in holding the ball correctly or positioning my foot."

Though Golson may not be completely satisfied with his performance, Crist liked what he saw from the two young quarterbacks.

"It was really good seeing them out there being comfortable and making plays," he said. "At times in the spring, they're young and they may not understand everything right away. But they did a great job going out there and managing the offense. They felt good in their own skin and doing what they know they can do."

Fans hoping for clues to the Crist/Rees starting quarterback saga likely didn't see a clear leader emerge on Saturday.

Crist completed 5 of 11 pass attempts for 34 yards, while Rees went 7 for 14 for 61 yards with one interception.

Though Crist said he and Rees are "definitely competing," he believes the competition is more internal.

"The quarterback position is a little different," he said. "You have to compete with yourself more than anybody. It's not something where you can line up two guys and have them run a straight line."

Kelly, who said the lack of continuity in the game made it hard to assess individual performances, did not say when he planned on announcing a starting quarterback.

Editor's note: This story has been revised to reflect Aaron Lynch as a defensive end. The original story misidentified his position.


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